|Ueli Forrer (SUI)|
|Paul Ganzenhuber (AUT)|
Organized by the Norwegian Ski Association, the annual spring meetings of the FIS Ski Jumping Sub-Committees were held from 6th - 9th April, 2006, during a cruise on the MS Trollfjord along the Hurtigrute with departure in Troms” and arrival in Trondheim. The meetings were not without last minute drama: Due to a strike in Norwegian domestic air traffic, prompt action was required by Sverre Seeberg, President of the Norwegian Ski Association and FIS Council Member, and Steinar Johannessen, Chairman of the NSF Ski Jumping Committee, who managed to organize a charter to fly the almost 60 meeting participants from Oslo to Troms”.
The meetings included sessions for all four Ski Jumping Sub-Committees: Jumping Hills chaired by Wolfgang Happle (GER), Calendar Planning chaired by Paul Ganzenhuber (AUT), Officials, Rules and Control chaired by Ueli Forrer (SUI) and Equipment and Development chaired by Bertil Palsrud (NOR). The expert deliberations were followed by a meeting of the Ski Jumping Coordination Board. Among the most important discussion topics were: a proposed flight trajectory study to form a basis for future jumping hill modifications, new hills to be built or old ones to be rebuilt, confirmation of the 10-second rule for start permission, video measurement in the Grand Prix and Continental Cup, season's judge ratings, refinements of the weight tables and rules for grooving the skis.
Based on the so-called Funnel System for decision-making in use in the FIS Ski Jumping Committee structure, the National Ski Associations will now have six weeks to comment on the committee proposals before the final decisions about proposals to submit to the FIS Council will be taken by the Ski Jumping Committee at its meetings during the FIS Congress week in Portugal from 21st - 27th May.
The spring Coordination Group meeting in Sapporo on 8th - 9th April, 2006, represented a significant milestone for the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
A major part of the agenda was concerned with the analysis of the test events carried out during the 2005/2006 season and the lessons learned. A further significant topic concerned TV production and transmission. Host broadcaster TV Asahi presented their plans for promotion of the championships and domestic transmission with much discussion around `golden' prime time coverage to get the best possible exposure. Additional discussions centered on the promotional activities before and during the championships, the festival particularly designed to showcase local Sapporo as well as Japanese entertainment, and the goal of appealing to the youngsters. Practical and logistical aspects were also reviewed including transportation, accommodation, accreditation, finances, technology, security, medical services, environmental management, ceremonies and the study group program.
President of the Sapporo Organizing Committee and FIS Vice-President, Yoshiro Ito led the Organizing Committee's delegation of more than 60 members, with EBU represented by Marc Joerg, APF Marketing through Reto Buechel and FIS with Sarah Lewis and Christian Knauth. Yoshiro Ito stated: "The Organizing Committee is fully focused on the work ahead and is very excited about the tremendous opportunity entrusted to Sapporo to stage the first FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Japan and Asia. We are doing everything we can to stage the best possible events and great promotion for Nordic skiing."
From 3rd - 7th April, 2006, over 800 delegates attended the 4th edition of SportAccord in Seoul (KOR) that was scheduled to coincide with the General Assemblies of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and the Association of International Olympic Winter Federations (AIOWF), among others.
Visiting Asia for the first time, this year's event provided an excellent opportunity for networking and discussing future development programs. While in Korea, FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper had a chance to meet with Byun Tak, President of the Korea Ski Association, to review the association's development plans in particular for Alpine Skiing, Ski Jumping, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard. He commented: "Following the highly successful FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships in Vivaldi Park (KOR) this season, I was impressed by the comprehensive plans for developing the sport of skiing around Korea, including the construction of new training areas, several training programs and other activities, all designed to enable the nation to catch up with the best in the world."
The end of the season provides an ideal opportunity to develop a National Ski Association's or an Organizing Committee's processes, systems and structure. To find out about industry best practices, consider the FIS Academy Intensive 6-day Program that will be held in Manchester, UK, following the FIS Congress in Portugal from 30th May - 4th June. This modular program was created specifically for the FIS Family, and offers intensive industry training including tools to develop strategic management techniques as well as a practical case study.
The core academic subjects of Finance and Governance, Marketing Management and Communications, and Stakeholder Relations will be delivered by Manchester Business School Academics while the sport specific modules will be delivered by leading industry experts, such as Francois Carrard, former Director General of the IOC and Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games - Deputy Executive Director at the IOC, among others.
There will be plenty of networking opportunities and the participants will receive a certificate from Manchester Business School. Places are limited and applications should be made by the end of April. For full program details please click here.
Winners@sportstransition have sponsored one full scholarship and two half scholarships for the 6-day program. The scholarships are available in the following categories:
Potential scholars should send a program application form with their contact details together with a 500 word essay on why they would make suitable recipients of this scholarship to email@example.com by 30th April 2006. More information can be found here.
In the third, and last, part of our Season Analysis-series, Joe Fitzgerald and Alex H”ller, the FIS Race Directors for Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard, respectively, provide their commentary on the last season.
FIS Newsflash: In your assessment, what was the 2005-2006 season like?
Joe Fitzgerald: What a Season!! The Olympic Winter Games represented all of the teams' focus on the World Cup as the main qualifying event. For 17 days in Sauze D'Oulx, we were able to present our discipline at the highest standards: the Freestyle events were 95% sold out, had a fantastic atmosphere and delivered amazing TV pictures. On top of that, no less than ten nations won Olympic medals in our four events!
A special thank you goes to all athletes and coaches who had worked countless hours in preparing themselves for the season.
In terms of the Freestyle Skiing World Cup, we have seen quite an evolution in the past eight seasons: it is now a very diverse place in terms of teams (some 31 nations participated with 1931 entries; 37% ladies and 63% men) and the 16 organizers in 13 nations on four continents. We have a series of established organizers in Canada, USA and Japan capable of producing high quality competitions in the Olympic events. We had an amazing aerial season opening in Mt Buller (AUS) and mogul opening in Tignes (FRA), and great mogul, aerial and half pipe finals in Apex (CAN). We are now working with several newer organizers, like China, to develop further and were pleased to welcome Spain and Korea as World Cup debutants. In fact, the ski cross finals in Sierra Nevada (SPA) represented one of the season highlights.
Alex H”ller: This was a very special season. The Olympic Winter Games clearly dominated the agenda, representing the #1 season highlight. All the while, the Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup was the most important opportunity to qualify for the Olympics. This helped raise the quality of the competitions, while increasing the pressure on the organizers. But this overall high level also helped us deliver the fantastic performances Snowboard presented in Torino: we are quite happy about the terrific show we put up at our six medal events there, including snowboardcross for the first time.
Other season highlights included the City Big Airs which are simply spectacular events and really help us move the sport forward. We should also mention the FIS Snowboard Junior World Championships in Vivaldi Park (KOR) that were superb both from the organizational and athletic perspectives. In addition, the JWSC served to underline the ever stronger performances of a series of `new' nations: Russia, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. With China, we had a new nation in the World Cup as well - one that even managed to have athletes qualify for the Olympics. On the whole, we are proud to say that we had 33 nations scoring World Cup points this season and all the four continents where we compete also sent athletes to our races.
FIS Newsflash: Where do you see the focus for your discipline going forward?
Joe Fitzgerald: Freestyle Skiing is the product of the hard work of many organizers, FIS Committee members, National Ski Associations, athletes and coaches. But we can say that the `product' is now well-defined as a high performance, exciting and - I suppose - fun & young skiing discipline. We are currently working hard to find a title sponsor for the Freestyle Skiing World Cup, and are optimistic since we have a good product to offer to a company that wants focus on a younger demographic profile.
We are also reviewing the competition calendar to find room for optimization by concentrating more events in each location. We have worked on growth strategy in the past, now we need to work on quality. However, we want to maintain the truly global nature of our circuit and will visit four continents in the future as well.
Along with the established aerials and moguls events, we have introduced two new events in the past four years: Ski cross has developed very well with strong participation and interest and some solid organizers, while half-pipe is an overall much younger event in terms of participants and organizers. Consequently, our focus going forward into the next Olympiad will be on standardizing the competition experience for all World Cup participants, regardless of the event, nation or continent. This includes further honing what we call the `Circle of Freestyle', our event presentation system, and continuing to refine our standard operating procedures.
Finally, and I think most importantly, we are looking at new ways of measuring and evaluating the skiers' performance. This means a movement towards a more measurement-based system with a smaller judging element. Many digital, video-based analysis tools that are easy to use and readily available on the market can be adapted for Freestyle Skiing.
Alex H”ller: One of Snowboard's main challenges is the differing levels of support the sport receives from the National Ski Associations. This support is sometimes even contradictory to the athletes' successes at major events like the Olympics. With just ten years of World Cup experience, we cannot rely on the tradition the more established disciplines have. Meanwhile, Snowboard has clearly become a mainstream sport that has masses of practitioners worldwide.
On a more tactical level, Snowboard continues to develop `higher, faster, and farther'. Especially in halfpipe and SBX, the facilities are growing bigger and more sophisticated, which improves the show and athlete safety, and increases costs. As a result, however, we might have to review whether it makes sense to keep the ladies' and men's competitions together as they are now in these two events, or to separate them to allow the ladies to develop at their pace. In terms of the competition calendar, we have to focus on optimizing both traveling time and cost. But we also want to continue to build on our three-block-system with the summer block staged in South America, the fall block consisting of city events and the main winter block which next year culminates in the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Arosa from 13th - 20th January. As a final point, the FIS Congress in May will decide on whether slopestyle is officially accepted into the FIS program. The test events this past season were well-received by participants and organizers alike.